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Quarterly Letter from the President

Dear AAFSW members and family,

AAFSW regularly contributes to helping our foreign affairs community. AAFSW’s pledge to give back goes beyond our embassies’ walls, especially when local employees of the Department of State and all other USG agencies under the Chief of Mission authority need us most. Funds are always needed, but recent Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Sudan events now recall three current appeals.  AAFSW started making a $1,000 monthly donation to the “Foreign Service National Relief Fund” consecutively to each of the above until the end of the year. The “Foreign Service National Relief Fund” is administered by the Department. Funds are solicited from Department employees to assist local, national staff overseas who are in need. “Our purpose is to assist, and FSN relief is to a group of individuals who are a core part of the State Department family. And after a significant crisis, AAFSW should be involved in supporting any single post needing the resources to offer assistance. It should be a family affair.” Pat Kennedy, April 2023. The FSN Emergency Relief Fund is the Department’s official charitable mechanism for disaster assistance to LE Staff. Since 1994, the Fund has served as the immediate humanitarian resource for local employees of the Department of State and all other USG agencies under the Chief of Mission authority. Funding for this program is not appropriated and is sustained solely by private contributions from the foreign affairs community.

AAFSW has received all nominations for the 2023 Secretary of State Award for Exceptional Voluntarism Abroad (SOSA) which ceremony will be held in November 2023 in the Benjamin Franklin Room of The State Department to recognize exceptional overseas volunteers, employees, and families, who have made a positive and lasting impact in their host country, supported morale and well-being within the Embassy or Consulate community, or helped others in an emergency. Each year, AAFSW gives out $2,500 in awards for each SOSA winner of six regional bureaus up to $12,500 annually—some years, not all bureaus receive awards. The SOSA committee budgets up to $20,000 for the total annual costs – including the awards we give out to the winners and all the other expenses for putting on the ceremony and celebrating the stewardship of these outstanding entrepreneurs and volunteers of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. The SOSA award was created in 1990 with the direct encouragement and support of the then-Secretary of State James A. Baker and his wife, Susan. AAFSW administers the award through generous contributions from former Secretaries of State, the Green Family Foundation, and you, the AAFSW members, and families.

Since 2018, AAFSW has honored high school seniors, gap year, first-year college students, and college sophomores with a current IEP, a 504, or equivalent program with AAFSW “Twice Exceptional” Merit Scholarship for AAFSW member students with special needs. This scholarship is designed to reward Academic Excellence for high school seniors and college students who have shown exceptional resilience and have academically overcome adversity due to special needs and the context of the American Foreign Service lifestyle. Succeeding in overcoming these academic challenges is notable. The AAFSW Merit Scholarship is meant for high school seniors and college students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP): a 504 or an equivalent program in place. In 2023, AAFSW plans to grant two AAFSW Merit Scholarships of $2,500 each, two AAFSW’s Twice Exceptional Merit Scholarships of $2,500 each; one Best Essay Scholarship of $1,000, and the Judy Felt Memorial Volunteerism Scholarship of $1,000. These scholarships recognize the valiant students and their parents, members of AAFSW’s community. AAFSW acknowledges the commitment of Adah Laureano Ellenport, AAFSW’s Scholarship Chair this year’s judges, Lara Center, Joanna Athanasopoulos, Jenny Kocher, Ann La Porta, and Adah Laureano Ellenport. AAFSW will join The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) for the 2023 Youth Awards Ceremony in the Department of State’s Marshall Center on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

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In June 2023, AAFSW welcomed a generous donation from Stephen J. Hadley. AAFSW is pleased to announce a new donation from Stephen Hadley, the 20th United States National Security Advisor, from 2005 to 2009. It is very generous and most appreciated that Mr. Hadley remembered us. This donation will be beneficial in supporting our multiple programs and effort to give back to our foreign affairs community.

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The Transition Center and Training Division of the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, invited AAFSW to host a table at their Resource Fair for new FS families on June 10, 2023. For this family-friendly event, AAFSW joined GCLO, FSYF, SOS, Med/CFP, OS, Transportation, CEFAR, and OBC. The first in-person fair since the pandemic at FSI was well attended, and people were very interested in
AAFSW’s activities. There was strong interest from new families and employees in AAFSW’s publications about life in the foreign service and our activities in the DMV.

Thank you for your continued support and trust.

Celine C. Erickson
President – AAFSW